CMU Energy Facts-Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

CMU Energy Facts

Over the coming decades the world must make fundamental transformations in how energy is used and produced. That's where we come in.

The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University is focused on:

  • Using and delivering the energy we already have far more efficiently
  • Expanding the mix of energy sources in a way that is clean, reliable, affordable and sustainable
  • Creating innovations in energy technologies, regulations and policies

CMU is uniquely suited for these challenges with our many research centers and longstanding faculty expertise in technology, policy, integrated systems and behavioral science.

What makes us different is our ability to seamlessly combine these areas for maximum impact.

CMU Energy Solutions:
Technology, Cybersecurity, Public Policy

Innovations from CMU faculty and researchers have been making an impact for decades. They have:

  • Developed new electric grid communications architectures that can withstand disruption from hackers while working on a more reliable U.S. electric system to protect it from cyber attack. Read More »
  • Provided one of the most detailed and useful studies on the increased greenhouse gas impacts of closing down nuclear plants in the wake of the radiation leaks at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Read More »
  • Developed research on carbon capture and sequestration to help authorities in California provide electricity without greenhouse gas emissions. Read More »
  • Helped power companies identify ways to transmit energy more efficiently – minimizing waste and helping to keep heating and cooling prices down. Read More »
  • Matched fluctuations in power from wind turbines with advanced batteries to help balance electrical loads and make renewable energy more reliable and efficient.
  • Created an effective tool – the Integrated Environmental Control Model (IECM) – for government, academic and industrial organizations to calculate the performance, emissions and cost of fossil-fueled power plants. In the last two years, it has been used by more than 800 organizations in 50 countries. Read More »
  • Incorporated renewable energy resources and provided modeling, simulation and control tools needed to manage, optimize and secure world power grids. Read More »

Entrepreneurship:
Job Creation in the Energy Industry

The rapid transfer of new technologies from the research laboratory into the corporate marketplace is a unique strength of CMU and an important asset for the Scott Institute. The university’s Greenlighting Startups initiative includes a portfolio of incubator groups that have helped CMU startups to successfully bring innovations to market. For example:

  • CMU ranks first among all U.S. universities without a medical school in the number of startup companies created per research dollar spent since 2007.
  • CMU’s award-winning professors and students produce an average of 15-20 new companies each year.
  • In the past 15 years, CMU faculty, students and alumni have created more than 300 companies and 9,000 jobs.

Two recent examples of energy-related CMU start-ups are:

  • Aquion Energy, which developed a novel sodium-ion battery optimized for stationary applications, including grid-scale energy storage and off-grid wind and solar support.
  • Plextronics, which specializes in printed solar, lighting and other electronics. As the worldwide search for renewable energy becomes more urgent, the company's technology will enable the mass production of printed devices, such as low-cost organic solar cells and high-efficiency lighting.

CMU Faculty:
Leaders in Interdisciplinary Research, from Technical Advances to Public Policy

  • The Scott Institute leverages the expertise of more than 100 professors and researchers from across CMU’s seven schools and colleges.
  • CMU professors and researchers inform expert decision makers and public discourse on energy issues.
    • Chaired the National Research Council committee that studied vulnerabilities of the U.S. power grid to terrorist attacks. The report focused on measures that could make the power delivery system less vulnerable and restore power faster.
    • Served on the 2012 advisory council of the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute.
    • Testified before energy committees in the 111th Congress, providing expert advice on incorporating both next generation technology research and policy recommendations to help transition the U.S. to a sustainable energy future.
    • Led the National Academy of Science’s report on Energy Efficiency in the 2010 series of “America’s Energy Future.”  
    • Chaired a prominent 2009 National Academy of Sciences committee study on “The Hidden Costs of Energy.”
    • Chaired the 2007 United Nations Environmental Programme Sustainable Buildings & Construction Initiative’s Think Tank. 
    • Wrote a technical summary in 2005 for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on carbon capture and storage.
    • Co-directed the Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions, a regional, five-university alliance that grew out of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
  • CMU faculty have been recognized in the U.S. and internationally for their groundbreaking work, receiving some of the most prestigious international awards, including:
    • The Wolf Prize in Chemistry (Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, 2011)
    • The World Technology Award in Energy (Aquion Energy – Founded by Professor Jay Whitacre, 2011)
    • The National Engineering Award (President Jared Cohon, 2011)
    • The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, 2009)
    • The American Chemical Society’s Hermann F. Mark Award (Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, 2007)
    • The Nobel Peace Prize (Professor Edward Rubin – Awarded as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007) 
    • The Metcalf Award for Outstanding Engineering Achievement (Professor Allen D. Biehler, 2004; Professor Jay Apt, 2002)
    • The Ipatieff Prize from the American Chemical Society (Professor Andrew J. Gellman, 1998)

CMU: A Leader by Example

  • 100 percent of CMU’s electricity for its Pittsburgh campus is purchased from green power sources.
  • CMU is home to the first LEED-certified residence hall in the U.S., in addition to 13 other green building projects on its Pittsburgh campus.
  • In 2009, CMU, along with other members of a local consortium of nonprofit institutions, chose to convert the local coal-burning boiler power plant to natural gas, greatly increasing the plant’s efficiency and dramatically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
  • CMU has received the Green Power Leader award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency several times.
  • Sierra Magazine ranked CMU as the 10th "Coolest" School (2007) for the university's efforts against global warming and toward creating a greener campus.
  • The Solar Controls and Diagnostics Lab (SCDL) at CMU's Silicon Valley campus is one of the world's most highly instrumented and monitored solar research facilities. With more than 1,000 sensors that monitor electrical and thermal behavior of the array throughout the year, the test-bed enables real-time estimation of partial shading and hot-spots that can significantly impact power output.
  • Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall, where the Scott Institute will be housed, is under construction, with a goal of attaining a minimum of Silver LEED certification.

Institute Background

  • The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation builds upon decades of energy research at CMU.
  • The institute launched in September 2012 through a lead gift from Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott, both CMU alumni.
  • The institute is named in honor of Sherman Scott’s late father, the former Chairman and CEO of Tenneco, Wilton E. Scott.